Saturday, 23 March 2019

Belarusian duo lifts Raiders past Rebels in Game 2

Sergei Sapego celebrates his first goal Saturday with Dante Hannoun (#17).
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The Prince Albert Raiders Belarusian duo proved to be too much for the Red Deer Rebels to handle.
    On Saturday before a standing room crowd of 3,152 spectators at the 2,580 seat Art Hauser Centre, winger Aliaksei Protas and defenceman Sergei Sapego, who are both from Belarus, each had two goals and an assist to lift the host Raiders past the Red Deer Rebels 6-4 in Game 2 of their first round WHL playoff series.
    With the win, the Raiders lead the best-of-seven set 2-0. Game 3 is set for Tuesday at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer with a 7 p.m. local time start.
    Protas, who is a rookie who turned 18-years-old in early January, was pumped to experience two wins in his first two post-season games in the WHL.
Aliaksei Protas scored twice for the Raiders on Saturday.
    “I am so excited about that,” said Protas, who was a plus-three in the plus-minus department on Saturday. “You just play fast, play physical like how we can.
    “We just win for fans and for us.”
    The Raiders looked dominant in the first period jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Sapego, who is in his second WHL campaign, netted both of his goals in the opening frame, while Protas had his first tally.
    Chris Douglas had the lone reply for the Rebels.
    “We play very well,” said Sapego, who was a plus-four on Saturday. “We just make sure just minimum penalties and just keep working.
    “We just try and play hard shift by shift.”
    Overage centre Dante Hannoun picked up assists on all three Raiders goals in the first period finishing the contest with the three helpers and a plus-three rating.
Sergei Sapego drives home his first of two goals on Saturday.
    “Obviously, it was a good one,” said Hannoun. “We just put the first game behind us.
    “It is a new day and a new game. We came in and prepared ourselves the right way.”
    The game’s momentum changed at the 3:50 mark of the second, when Raiders star right-winger Brett Leason received a major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct for a hit on Rebels winger Cameron Hausinger. Leason’s hit will automatically be reviewed by the WHL office for a possible suspension.
    Rebels overage winger Brandon Hagel scored near the end of the five-minute power play to cut the Raiders lead to 3-2. Hagel evened things up at 3-3 at the nine-minute mark of the second shortly after Leason’s infraction expired.
Brandon Hagel had a hat trick for the Rebels on Saturday.
    With the scored tied up at 3-3, Raiders captain Brayden Pachal blew home a point shot through a screen from the point to give the Raiders a 4-3 edge.
    Before the second period ended, the Raiders could have increased the lead, when defensive defenceman Jeremy Masella was hauled down on a breakaway by Rebels centre Josh Tarzwell. Masella wasn’t able to score on his penalty shot.
    At the 2:08 mark of the third, Protas tapped home a loose puck in the crease of the Rebels goal to put the Raiders up 5-3 and give the host side a push to close out the game.
    Protas said his third period goal was important, because it helped counter the momentum the Rebels gained from scoring on the power-play. Red Deer went 3-for-5 with the man advantage in the contest.
    “It was big a goal,” said Protas of his second tally of the night. “We just tried to bring it back and just score and just keep playing our way.”
Dante Hannoun (#17) had three assists for the Raiders on Saturday.
    Rookie right-winger Ozzy Wiesblatt put the Raiders up 6-3 in the third before Hagel netted his third goal of the night to round out the scoring in the contest.
    Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid was pleased with how his side dealt with the changes in momentum on Saturday.
    “A win is a win,” said Habscheid. “We faced some adversity.
    “We got up early, which was good. They got that power play to make it 2-1. I thought a key point again was Sapego’s goal, that bank shot in the first to make it 3-1.
    “We got into a little penalty trouble in the second. We had to overplay some guys. I thought in the third they dug in and obviously did real well in the third.”
Raiders D Jeremy Masella (#3) jets off on a second period breakaway.
    Ian Scott made 19 saves in goal for the Raiders, who topped WHL regular season standings with a 54-10-2-2 record. Ethan Anders turned away 25 shots in goal for the Rebels, who finished eighth overall in the Eastern Conference in the regular season at 33-29-4-2.
    Habscheid liked the effort his squad received from Sapego at both ends of the ice.
    “He is a multidimensional player,” said Habscheid. “He plays good offence, but he is gritty.
    “He is tough to play against. He has been important for us.”
    Habscheid thought Protas’s level of play has risen in the post-season.
The Art Hauser Centre faithful cheers one of the Raiders goals.
    “He is a big guy,” said Habscheid. “He is smart.
    “He has done real well. In the playoffs, it is a whole different game, and he has really embraced the playoffs.”
    Habscheid said he didn’t think the second period infraction to Leason should have been called a major penalty noting Hausinger was out for the ensuing power play. The bench boss thought Hausinger embellished the hit he received.
    Habscheid added that Hagel came by and taunted the Raiders bench after one of his goals, which helped get the host side fired up along with the team’s fans. 
The Raiders and Rebels scrum it up in the third period.
    Hausinger was booed almost every time he touched the puck after Leason was kicked out of the contest, while Hagel received heckles as well.
    The veteran coach said the response from the crowd gave his side some extra jump.
    “They are smart hockey fans,” said Habscheid. “They are hardcore fans.
    “They know the game. They saw Hausinger came right out and then they saw that Hagel was taunting our bench. They (the fans) pick up on those things, and it makes a difference for us.”
The Raiders celebrate their Game 2 win on Saturday night.
    As the series shifts to Red Deer, Hannoun said his club has to enter Game 3 looking to play their best game of the series.
    “We’re just focused one game at a time,” said Hannoun. “Every game in front of us, we just have to focus on what we need to do, and we have to bring our A-game.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.